10. Ohio, revisited (This time… Athens!!)

Ohio was state number 10, but we always wanted to get back and visit my college town, Athens, together. I’m happy to say we made it back, if only for 24 hours on our way to Kentucky!

It was great showing Matt around OU — eating and drinking our way down Court Street. We visited with my sorority sister, Lindsay, and my awesome old bosses at Brenens. 

With a stop at Little Fish Brewing, and fighting the rain to wind through campus, I’d say it was a great day with my favorite person in my favorite city!

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22. Kentucky

Bourbon — betting — and beer!! State number 22, Kentucky — and my college roommate, Carolyn! — showed us a great time. We came just in time for the Keeneland Spring Meet, and made a stop at the Woodford Reserve bourbon distillery.

Woodford Reserve was beautiful. The whole drive in from the highway was full of rolling, green hills, winding fences, and gorgeous horse farms. Our tour guide was great and we got to see the mash room, their huge copper pot stills, and the building that houses thousands of barrels and aging bourbon.

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Next — we were off to the races!! Keeneland was a cool mix of very casually-dressed people who go there just to bet (and know the whole science and method behind it) and dressed-up and half-drunk people who were just happy to be there and drink Keeneland Breezes. We lucked out with gorgeous weather, but Carolyn and I both lost nominal amounts of money betting on the horses with the biggest butts.

We also found time for visit a few breweries (West Sixth and Mirror Twin). Mirror Twin had a Cinnamon Toast Crunch beer that was so delicious, it made us very thankful we bring growlers on trips like these! Our last day brought with it a hike at Red River Gorge. Driving through the Gorge was gorge-ous (see what I did there!?) but the hike itself — Indian Staircase — proved to be too difficult/fear-inducing/athletic for everybody but Matt.

Kentucky impressed us, entertained us, and fed us well!!

 

 

Travel Tip: How we save 20% or more on hotel rooms

You can get a lower price on just about anything with a bit of research and patience. Without a doubt, this goes for hotel rooms, too!

We save a lot of money on our quest to see the country by using Priceline’s Express Deals. Express Deals give you a pretty sizeable discount on hotel rooms — but you don’t know for sure what hotel you are getting until you finish booking.

Matt is great at finding amazing deals using this and the bidding tool ($104/night, including taxes and fees, to stay at a brand new, trendy hotel in Manhattan? SIGN ME UP.) He’s also great at figuring out which hotel we’re getting before it’s booked.

I’ve been planning a one-night stop in my college town of Athens, Ohio; a city with remarkably few affordable places to stay. Sorry, not sorry — I am not willing to pay $100/night for a 2-star hotel with mediocre reviews and within walking distance of nothing.

 

Anyway, I was browsing Priceline’s regular deals and getting ready to just suck it up and spend the cash — when I ran across this glaringly obvious Express Deal that saved me about 20%.

Here’s how they show up on the website. I knew the ‘secret’ Express Deal was the Baymont because the descriptions and stars are the same, and when I clicked on the deal, a popup told me “someone else just booked this room for $91!” Case closed.

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There are websites that will help you when it’s not this easy. Matt prefers ExpDeals, but we have also used Better Bidding. It just takes a little bit of reading and research and time, but the savings add up (especially if you’re booking for multiple nights).

Below is the end result: The left is what we would have paid, had we not bothered with the Express Deal — for the same exact dates and room. On the right is my receipt. A difference of about $20 I can now spend on delicious beers in Athens!!

A tip (From Matt): You might notice our taxes/fees are more expensive. With Express Deals, they’re calculated from the total *regular* cost of the room. With the bid tool, they’re calculated from your winning bid.

Happy haggling!!

19. Louisiana

I ALMOST forgot about our very fast and very WET trip to Louisiana! We visited New Orleans in August, adding the leg onto our last Minnesota visit for about $40 extra per ticket. We had a sweet Air BnB, lots of recommendations, and were excited to drink our way down Bourbon Street!

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That was… until the torrential rains started the second we landed. Very long story short, most roads were totally underwater because pumps weren’t working. We ended up on a grassy median in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by rivers of water. We couldn’t get to our Air BnB because the roads were closed… and we were all but stranded.

So, we changed in the car and did what we do best… found a BREWERY!! In our two days in Louisiana, we visited with my sorority sister, Ella, and stuffed our faces with beignets.

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We also wanted to take a bayou tour, but didn’t want to pay $60 for an ultra-touristy one close to New Orleans. So we drove about an hour away to Houma, had some po boys, and took a tour with Annie Miller’s Son’s Marsh and Swamp Tours. We highly recommend them! The guy who took us on the tour had been doing it for decades and called the alligators by name up to the boat.

Before we left, we made it up to Baton Rouge for Matt to run the LSU track, and he ended up meeting the insanely nice Senior Associate Athletic Director. He showed us all around the inside facility and gave us a preview of the new track they were putting in at the time.

We loved our very rainy stay in Louisiana, but never made it to Bourbon Street. I think that means we’re due for a trip back!!

18. North Dakota

This state number is a *tad* out of order. We visited North Dakota during a blustery summer day, while on vacation with Matt’s parents! When it’s too cold to go in the lake: take a little day trip instead!

We walked by the famous Art Deco-style Fargo Theater, popped into some antique stores, and had lunch at an awesome wood-fire pizza place called Blackbird.

 

We got a track and a brewery in, too. We made a great stop at Flatland Brewery, and Matt ran the track at North Dakota State!

 

Even though it was really windy and didn’t at all feel like early August, it was fun to *finally* make it to Minnesota’s northwest neighbor.

 

 

 

Thanks for reading about our latest adventure!!
You can check out our full list of breweries and tracks in every state we’ve visited.
Be sure to follow (link on the right sidebar!) and you’ll get a quick email when we post something new!
-Devin and Matt 

 

COUNTRY No.1: CUBA!

CABALLO!! CABALLO!! I will never stop hearing the sound of the horse tour guy yelling at Matt’s horse to stop ripping corn out of every field we passed by. “CABALLO!” He’d yell, and I’d turn around to see Carmelo The Horse standing in a corn field, munching away.
We decided to go to Cuba with my sister, Danielle, and her husband, Matthew. (Matt squared all week!!) Calling them “experienced travelers” would be a huge understatement. They have been EVERYWHERE! So I knew they’d be great travel companions for my and Matt’s first international trip together.

We visited three cities: Havana, Trinidad, and Vinales. Each had something very different to offer. Havana, unmatched architecture, a deep history, and many, many cars. Trinidad, a mix of rural and small city life, also prides itself on keeping history alive and well. No cars drive on the main streets downtown. The city of Vinales is a lush, agricultural oasis that basically looks like the set of Jurassic Park.

As luck would have it, the Trinidad leg drove us right into the path of a tropical storm. For two full days, it poured. And poured. And poured. We had soaking wet clothing hanging from every door, window, and chair in our place. I was starting to wonder if I would ever be dry again. But do vacations stop for a little street flooding? Of course not!


One night we decided to go to a club in a real freakin’ cave underground. Club Alaya would never be allowed to happen in America. But to get there, we had a half mile walk in absolutely insane rain that had turned every street and alleyway into a babbling brook of sewage and mud. We did it anyway. In heels! And dresses and dress pants!

By the time we got there, we looked like this. The four of us, along with about a hundred drunk European teenagers, danced ourselves dry with a mojito in our hand anyway. Don’t even ask about the walk home, after it had been raining for another two hours.

In Cuba, nothing works exactly the way it’s supposed to or is done precisely on time, and that is exactly what you should expect.
What you also should expect is an incredibly welcoming and kind people. Though I’ve had lots of experience in Europe watching out for pickpocketers, never once in Cuba did I feel unsafe.
We found that for the most part, people there like Americans and want their tourism. And that includes ROBERTO!! A dude I won’t soon forget.
We were pulled over along the highway while driving towards Vinales, and a security guy told us that the bus to the city had broken down and they needed to start getting people to work. In short, we had to take a guy with us in our car to Vinales. Before I could so much as move into the middle seat, a small, quiet Cuban guy, who later introduced himself as “Roberto”, was sliding into the car next to me.

For a full hour, we tried to make small conversation, pooling our minimal Spanish skills and listening carefully to his botched English. We learned he was a tobacco farmer in Vinales and traveled an hour on the bus to work every day. At the end of our commute, he welcomed us to the tobacco farm for free Cuban cigars.
I would go back one day. Cuba is a country unlike any I’d been to. It’s full of resilient, resourceful people. And chickens. Lots and lots of chickens.

To bring it full circle (literally), Matt got to run his track! With Che Guevara watching over him, he ran the Estadio Panamericano in Havana. We found a pretty easy way into the old stadium, but could hear the people who now make their home in the walls.

We did lots and lots more in Cuba. Hikes, jumping into a waterfall, having a panic attack while jumping into a waterfall, meeting a random lady on a mountain named Sophia who gave us this weird lukewarm mango juice… I’ve only shared with you some of the highlights!! 🙂

A few people have asked me about the Visa process to get into Cuba. If you plan on going and have questions, just ask!

 

 

Thanks for reading about our latest adventure!!
You can check out our full list of breweries and tracks in every state we’ve visited.
Be sure to follow (link on the right sidebar!) and you’ll get a quick email when we post something new!
-Devin and Matt 

3. Florida

The third state we visited together, and really our first “vacation”, was  a quick trip to Florida to visit my sister and brother-in-law! They live near Tampa and basically always have impeccable weather.

AND THEY HAVE A BOAT!! So we got to enjoy the sunshine and walk around on some little islands. I’ve visited plenty of times before, so it was fun showing Matt around the area.

Our visit to Tampa cost us $180 each round trip for flights. A good deal, but before we learned the tricks to getting them for really cheap. This was really the trip that sparked our idea to visit all 50 together!

I visited Anclote Brewing a few years ago, but this trip, Matt got to run a track!

Thanks for reading about our latest adventure!!
You can check out our full list of breweries and tracks in every state we’ve visited.
Be sure to follow (link on the right sidebar!) and you’ll get a quick email when we post something new!
-Devin and Matt